Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Looking for Kerouac by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

LOOKING FOR KEROUAC is a mélange of creative non-fiction, prose and poetry, travelogue and memoir, from acclaimed New Zealand poet & author Mercedes Webb-Pullman. Layering flashbacks from her American honeymoon 30 years ago with journeys by train in search of remnants of the world of Kerouac and Co. in their cross-hatching travels over their country, “LOOKING FOR KEROUAC" is certainly a piece of writing that Kerouac or any other stream-of-consciousness guru would be proud of. Allow the whole thing to hypnotize and bliss you out.” (Robert Clark Young, CNF Editor, Connotation Press).

amidst Picasso’s party guests
steering clear
of red wine

insecure about the waistcoat
in which there are
three pockets

the velvet catches shadows
and stows them in creases

a topcoat and trousers
make a suit
a topcoat a waistcoat and trousers
make a suit

I don’t know which to wear
the grey velvet suit
or the grey velvet suit behind it

Picasso fills his canvas
with spaces
the grey velvet suit
makes music between them
with too few notes

sisters of Syria
why wear black?
a grey velvet suit

I learn savage music
from the black keys

how semi-tones stain
grey velvet

when I remove
my grey velvet suit
it tumbles in an arc

seeing my suit
crumpled on the floor
she mistakes it for me
and laughs

I fly over Paris
on my piano keys;
fatal ecstasy of
syncopated faces
and hypnotic shades

the party is heating up
the grey velvet suit must have worked

it was Paris all performance
it was spring
we will always have Paris
just check
my grey velvet suit pocket

(first published in Danse Macabre du Jour)

There is a man cut in two by a window.

I do not eat every day and am often
under the influence of cenesthesic disorders.
Lately Magritte’s falling umbrellas
trouble the scale of apple and rose
listening attentive for scents released
by the actual functioning of thought.

The man is not perturbed
by the perpendicular pane
swinging in axis to his movements.
After all, dead Apollinaire applauds the way
Rimbaud lives the way he lives,
guns akimbo, while elsewhere
simple receptacles of echoes close in
on the Mississippi and its little dog
while Eluard watches, lips
burned to a crisp.

B. Toklas discovers her red ribbon
in Aragon’s flaming punch,
Man Ray fakes a frame
with his fingers.

We snack
on snails in the wet taxi
waiting to enter
the human condition.

* (after The First Manifesto of Surrealism - 1924,  Andre Breton, with a nod to Janet Frame
 first published in Danse Macabre #67 Terra)

that’s what she read on the flyleaf
on the gift to her husband
signed your aisha

emotional dyslexia
for Sylvia who
became ash:
salty earth
grim pillar

One spring caterpillars attacked the cherry-tree leaves, eating their green flesh so a bleached vein skeleton remained, lace-like, delicate. We didn’t want to spray but there were too many to squash by hand, tiny slimy dark brown slugs that seemed to excrete acid, dissolve leaf tissue then suck up the mess. A neighbor suggested ash, thrown at the leaf undersides where the slugs ate. It worked – multitudes died. The pain of a million fizzing snails.

Ash tastes bitter, and stings your eyes.

* (first published in poetryrepairs)

 About the Author:

MercedesWebb-Pullman started writing late in life and graduated from IIML Victoria University Wellington with MA Creative Writing in 2011. Her poems and the odd short story have appeared online, in print and in her books Food 4 Thought, Numeralla Dreaming from Bench Press and After the Danse and Looking for Kerouac from Hammer & Anvil Books. (They are about to release another chapbook length poem, Ono.) She won the Wellington Cafe Poetry contest in 2010 and wrote the foreword for their 2012 collection. Her poem Dirty Streams made short-list in the Page and Blackmore poetry competition 2013 and her short story The doll thing is included in a collection by Rangitawa Press.  Her lucky number is 8. Blue. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand, and is Lazarus Media LLC’s Assistant Editor, Pacific, and Editor-in-Chief, DM du Jour.


  1. These are representative, the love of art and words, the figuration of history turned revealing caricatures-- odd to see so much of so many in so few words. As always, the writer emerges as the mortar between the bricks, this solid structure of creative artistry...wonderful...hdm

  2. This is a wonderful book. The best new book of the year. I'd second the words of Howard Moore (above) he sees the picture and gets the point.

  3. Wild poems. I especially like the Picasso one -- the blend of art history and imagination. I'll definitely get her book.

  4. Mercedes is an amazing poet, amazing woman. I just can't wait to read this book!